Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pep Talk: "We'll Never Get Booed For The Effort!"

The featured speakers had offered many pearls of wisdom but this one stood out: “Even when you stink, it looks like you’re trying.”

That statement drew a roar from the crowd gathered for the 2014 Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for the Raytown, MO., school district. Bobby Dernier, a standout major league outfielder and 1984 National League Gold Glove recipient, was the orator. Legendary baseball play-by-play announcer Harry Carey had offered the encouragement to the Cubs’ center fielder years ago.

Dernier, who played ten years in the major leagues with the Phillies and Cubs, had that wise gem dropped in his lap while sitting in the bar of a Montreal hotel. The slick-fielding, fleet-of-foot, keeper-of-the-outfield-grass was locked in an 0-15 batting slump. Carey ended his unintentional pep talk with, “You’ll never get booed at home with that spirit.”

The 57-year-old father of four and grandpa to six also shared other baseball stories that in reality, are wonderful metaphors for life. “You can fail seven straight times but then get three straight hits. 3 out of 10 in baseball is really good. You have to learn to persevere.” Amen to that buddy.

Honored as a “CUB Legend” earlier this year at ceremonies in Chicago saluting 100 years of baseball at the franchise’s historic home, Wrigley Field, Dernier continues active in the game through mentoring aspiring ballplayers. Not known for power, one of Dernier’s career highlights was leading off the 1984 National League Championship series with a homer against the San Diego Padres. Great moments aside, it was a humble beginning in professional baseball for this life-long friend. Back in the late 1970‘s Dernier’s signing bonus with the Philadelphia organization was only $1,500. The road to the big leagues had many twists and turns.

He had to learn to persevere. Mission accomplished. It’s the truth behind success in baseball, business, relationships, fitness or whatever endeavor. Most often, it’s those who somehow, someway, muster the resilience to keep trying even when, Carey’s words, “We stink.”

There were many reminders of key ingredients to success from other inductees on this day. Dr. George C. Gibson, a graduate of Raytown High School in 1963 - there are two high schools in the district, Raytown and Raytown South -  offered: “My experience growing up in this community taught me the value of serving others and always seeking new frontiers to grow as a person.” 

The father of three went on from high school to the Air Force Academy, distinguished himself in a long military career and now runs a thriving technology company while mentoring small business owners. The lessons the former collegiate football player - offensive lineman for the Air Force Falcons - learned in his youth, “serve and seek”, remain with him today.

Where might it be time for us to serve and seek? If you happen to be reading this and live in Denver, how about Victory’s “A Stronger Cord” (ASC) project? ASC needs fitness-minded, dependable and productive men. Our first target market is the Mile High City’s homeless male population. ASC surrounds these men, in workouts, with quality dudes in trying to rebuild shattered social networks. Families have disowned these wounded men, employers have fired them and these men, addicted to drugs and alcohol, have been associating with unsavory characters. ASC envelopes participants with a platoon of high-character men. The ultimate goal is to re-engage this isolated population with families, jobs and communities.

A Stronger Cord needs a cadre of men with a spirit like Gibson’s. Those willing to serve and seek. It starts with the workout.

On this special day six women and men were honored as the school district’s tenth Hall of Fame class. Another was Amber J. Lawson. A 1990 graduate of Raytown South - “Sexy and mighty, the class of 1990!” - Lawson has earned great acclaim in the entertainment world. Based in Los Angeles, the University of Missouri graduate is a producer and entrepreneur who currently programs and produces on-line content. A graduate of Chicago’s infamous “Second City” comedy theatre is best known as founder and CEO of Comedy Gives Back. She offered thanks to one particular teacher who believed in Lawson when Lawson didn’t: “Miss Sidens encouraged my talents to blossom. I picked up tools that gave me access to thinking anything is possible.”

This week, let’s take a cue from three Hall of Famers: Be open to instruction and believe in ourselves; possess a mindset of service to others while seeking new frontiers and, last but certainly not least, even when we stink, keep trying.

Trust me, we’ll never get booed at home, or anywhere else, for the effort.

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